April 12, 2013 by miracleparade
I know I haven’t written in a bit. I find that I go through phases; whether I’m busy with other stuff (which, PLUG: I sort of am) or I just don’t have the motivation to write – I just let things sit for a bit.
I came across this news article today that struck a chord in me, and it put that fire back in my belly to get a few things off my chest. To start off, here is the article:
For the non-link clickers: The story is of a gay man that was visiting his sick partner in the hospital and the hospital forcibly removed him due to the fact that in most states marriage (and the visitation rights granted along with the institution) aren’t recognized for same-sex couples.
Now, regardless of how the facts shake out in this particular case (the hospital is claiming he was removed because he was being disruptive and interfering with care) – this is no isolated incident. In this day and age, people who love each other aren’t able to be together – and be recognized by the state. This shouldn’t be breaking news to you – its the new civil rights battle our generation is fighting.
But who is on the other side of this battle? As my friend Anthony said (while we were chatting about this): “Who looks at two people in love and gets angry? What kind of person is that?”
What kind of person is that? Where would anyone get the idea that homosexuality is wrong? Any guesses?
It also shouldn’t shock you that by region, the south is the most against marriage equality, and that by political affiliation (you guessed it) republicans present the most hold out to be on the right side of history.
In fact, though I would be careful to pull causation out of mere correlation; I do find it interesting that since 1996 support for gay marriage has risen almost 20% and people who identify themselves as “non-believers / non affiliated” has risen about the same percentage.
So, when added all together the picture strongly suggests that people who are bigoted against homosexuals have this belief due to religious teachings. An obvious observation for some, but believe me: I have had many people try to tell me this isn’t true – and that people who don’t support same sex marriage are equally religious/non-religious. I find that unlikely – but will believe it if that’s what the data shows.
See what I did there? I said I would change a belief I hold, if data showed me that said belief is incorrect. That’s what reason and logic are all about: acquiring data to constantly refine what you “know”. I know I’ve gone on many rants about how, as a human species, this ability to consciously correct what we “know” is one of our most valuable (and most squandered) traits. And this leads me to my main point:
When talking about faith vs. reason – it’s one or the other.
Believing in something without evidence – no matter how seemingly benign the belief is – begets ignorance and is the fertile soil in which abhorrent qualities like bigotry, fear, and superstition’s seeds take purchase.
In other words: I don’t care how “spiritual” you are. I don’t care how it gives you comfort. I don’t care that your church is one of “the nice ones” that doesn’t believe in the “archaic” stuff in the bible.
I don’t care that you think christianity can coexist with gender equality, or gay rights, or with science. Nor do I care that your spirituality has helped you in your life. The belief in something without evidence, while it perhaps got you through the time in your life when your parents got divorced or your grandmother died, made you feel all warm and fuzzy – the same belief has also killed, discriminated, oppressed others for eons. And your happiness when weighed against all of that doesn’t not present a strong enough case for me to care.
Because at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what you BELIEVE. It doesn’t matter what your church believes. The finer points of your belief system aren’t the problem; it is that you believe them without evidence. And when you believe one thing without evidence – what is to stop you from believing anything? Now, I don’t want to trap myself in the “slippery slope argument” – what I mean to say is: if your beliefs have no standard in which to ‘check and balance’ them, then why not believe anything? If there is no objective unbiased vetting process that your belief must go through – then why not believe the world is flat?
Further more, I take issue with the idea that I have to equally consider/respect your belief. Just as I don’t have to consider someone’s belief that the world is 3,000 years old, or that evolution doesn’t exist – since the facts are in on these topics, neither do I have to consider opinions that you will believe willy-nilly with no evidence.
I know this is harsh. But genocide, bigotry, war, martyr-ism, sexism, et al are so much harsher. And your willingness to believe what evidence suggests is a myth, no matter how good-intentioned you think it is, furthers all of the above. It is intrinsically tied together. Every religious person thinks they’re doing the right thing – you think your reasons for believing are different from other religious people’s reasons? Muslims think they are following the word of god. Christians think they are. You think your god is one that loves everyone. Someone else think’s their god wants them to fly a plane into a building. Great. Who’s right?
Let me guess: you think you’re right. What a coincidence! So does everyone! Have you given thought about a way to prove it? Oh… you mean you just feel it? Beautiful. So do they.
I have friends whom I love very much that still believe in god. They also believe in marriage-equality, gender-equality, etc.
(And by mere coincidence – I’m sure – their god also believes in those things. In fact, now that I think about it: The god that each person describes usually reminds me a lot of the person describing said god. What a funny coincidence!)
Regardless, I do feel conflicted because I know these friends want to do good. I know they’re belief in a higher power comes from a place of good intentions and love. I don’t want to alienate or insult them; they’re also very smart people. Belief and superstition can seep into even the most agile of minds. However, as I would charge a friend to confront me if I held a flawed belief (as good friends should), how could I not at least try to have a debate about the dangers in believing in something without evidence?
Even statistically speaking – what are the chances you’re right? Let’s take a look at all the religions that have ever existed, that you, hypothetically could have chosen from: Most estimate that there have been 4,200 world religions. What are the chances you picked the right one? (It’s .02% – yes: LESS than 1/10 of one percent.) Maybe you think that all things aren’t equal and that you should only consider ones that have “lasted through time”. Even then you’re chances aren’t that great. Even between Christianity and Islam (the two most popular) you only get a 50/50 chance. A coin flip.
You base your life and decisions therein on something that can be reduced down to the tenuousness of a coin-flip?
“Not fair” you say (perhaps) “Since these things aren’t equal. “X” religion makes a better case than “Y”.”
Or another version of this argument is: “Well Christianity makes a better (and longer lasting case) than say, believing in Zeus. So the odds between them can’t be summed up as ‘equally likely to be correct’.”
Well – if you’re using this argument congrats: You’re an atheist*.
The logical method you used to deduce the UNLIKELINESS that belief in Zeus is correct, is the same method of which to also deduce that ANY gods’ existence is unlikely.
In other words: you don’t believe, due to lack of evidence, in 99.99999 percent of gods that other people claimed existed. Why believe in your god without evidence?
*or agnostic. Semantics.